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PayPal Credits Man With $92 Quadrillion 151

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-are-those-old-imperial-credits-or-new dept.
solareagle writes "Pennsylvania resident Chris Reynolds got quite a shock when he opened his most recent PayPal statement — it said he had a $92,233,720,368,547,800 balance in his account. 'I'm just feeling like a million bucks,' Reynolds told the [Philadelphia] Daily News yesterday. 'At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise.' When asked what he would do with the money, he said, 'I would pay the national debt down first. Then I would buy the Phillies, if I could get a great price.' The Daily News speculates that the astronomical balance may be related to PayPal's new Galactic initiative, announced last month, to expand its business beyond Earth." He should have quickly minted a new coin.
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PayPal Credits Man With $92 Quadrillion

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  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:27PM (#44321999) Homepage

    Otherwise he will be asked to pay tax on his income! :-)

    • by icebike (68054) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:32PM (#44322063)

      We have yet to hear from the person who's account was debited by the same amount.
      No doubt that guy is in hospital with a heart attack.

      • by buswolley (591500)
        Well, it depends.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If he is in the US, he probably couldn't get into the hospital since he owes too much money to get approved.
      • by mysidia (191772)

        We have yet to hear from the person who's account was debited by the same amount. No doubt that guy is in hospital with a heart attack.

        Naw... i'm sure he just fled the country.

      • by macraig (621737)

        Maybe it wasn't a person... maybe it was Apple? They can almost afford it.

    • by TWX (665546)
      Even the IRS' computers should choke on how to process that one for awhile...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by intermodal (534361)

        I know exactly how they process that one. Hold sign with name nad numbers, photo from the front, photo from the side, fingerprints, get in your orange jumpsuit.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          You have to fail to report and file your taxes properly, as required, and given reasonable time, before there is even a chance of that happening.

          And to get the orange jumpsuit; I do believe you have to have committed fraud, or failed to pay after they sent an invoice, for a considerable length of time.

          Just having a multi-billion$$ tax bill alone, doesn't land you in jail.

          It may result in penalties and adverse asset forfeitures and seizures by IRS enforcement agents, however..

        • by pakar (813627)

          Well... "You still have to pay income-tax on it this year... Next year you can deduct it if the issue has been resolved"

    • by Bork (115412)

      If he had that money for one hour, that would mean he had a average income of $10,528,963,512,391 for this year, not counting any other income he might have had.

    • by msauve (701917)
      Not really. The article is wrong. There was a picture of the statement on CNN - they debited his account, it showed he was overdrawn by that amount. Not as good a story, I suppose.
    • If I were given $92 Quadrillion, I will happily pay 99.999% tax. Try it and watch!
       

      • by dimeglio (456244) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @07:55PM (#44323255)
        You are obviously not a republican.
      • 92 quadrillion is about 2,000 times as much money as exists on paper at the moment (i.e. including money that is really assets, but accounted for in US dollars). Suddenly receiving that much would cause hyperinflation, so you might be happy with the amount you'd have left over after tax, but you'd probably have difficulty spending it as very few people would be willing to accept US dollars in payment. $92 billion would be a much nicer amount to receive and pay 99.999% tax on. You'd be left with about a m
    • by mysidia (191772)

      Otherwise he will be asked to pay tax on his income! :-)

      The 1099 form doesn't have enough space; the number would get truncated to 2,147,483,648

      And he could easily pay off the IRS So his taxes would be more limited than one might think.

      • by pakar (813627)

        Pay off?? For that amount i could basically buy any country in the world... Offer every citizen $5000000 to move out of the country, but only if at least 99% of the population leaves. Even if there are a few wealthy people that chose to stay there would be nobody that would take care of the infrastructure for them ;)

        $92,233,720,368,547,800 / 6 billion = $15372286 per person in the world..

        But there is a problem with having that much money and starting to spread it around would cause a devaluation of money..

        • And it would not matter if it's a fiat currency or gold-backed currency

          It would make a difference. If it were backed by gold, you could redeem it for the gold value, dump it in the sea, and then live on the continent made out of gold that you'd just built...

          • by pakar (813627)

            Well... would not really call that a continent...

            92233720368547800/1296.30 = 71151523851383 ( $1296.3 was price per ounce i could find )
            (71151523851383*28.3495231) / 1000 = 2017111769024 Kg's of gold. ( One ounce 28.3495231gram ... )

            http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=92233720368547800USD+in+gold+volume

            = 0.115 cubic kilometers... Or a cube with 486 meter sides.....

            Will probably be quite hard to grow anything on it... But the biggest problem would probably be all the leprechauns running around on that isla

    • Typical. The 0.00001% richest Americans are always trying to dodge their tax burden. "His" tax burden rather. I hear as a kid he mowed the lawn for a few dollars. Bet he "forgot" to report that to the IRS.
    • by mark-t (151149)
      You do not have to pay any tax on a banking error in your favor unless you actually use (ie, withdraw) any of the extra money before the error is corrected... and even then you only get taxed on what you withdrew, not the amount of the error (plus you still have to pay back any difference between what you withdrew and what you otherwise could have withdrawn to the bank, with interest accumulating from the time you withdrew the money).
  • ...if any existing financial application actually has currency fields appropriately sized for that number.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bork (115412)

      Zimbabwe would be a good candidate.

      • No... The banks lasted quite a while, but that is one of the reasons they kept taking zeros (23 in total) off the end of the currency. My dad has ZW$600 Trillion in a bank account (=US$50), and his statement reads Z$600. Nobody cares about anything below a trillion, so why store the digits? This is different however. Theoretically 1 US$ still has value...

        Incidentally, while my dad has 600 Trillion (+23 zeros if you want to get to the original range), he can not access the money. I suspect the gentleman in q

    • I'm wondering how many other slobs rushed out to check their paypal accounts to see if something like that had happened to them. :)
  • by GerbilSoft (761537) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:28PM (#44322021)
    2^63 - 1 == 9,223,372,036,854,775,807

    Assuming PayPal's currency values are stored in cents, dividing that by 100 results in $92,233,720,368,547,758.07. Looks like a 64-bit signed integer overflowed (or in this case, underflowed), resulting in integer wraparound.
    • by id10t_corner (527347) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:34PM (#44322077)
      This sounds like a Mycroft Holmes joke.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        Where oh where did my expired mod points go.

        +1 Funny, and anybody who doesn't get the reference should be drummed off the site.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Zalbik (308903)

          +1 Funny, and anybody who doesn't get the reference should be drummed off the site.

          Because we should all have exactly the same tastes in literature and/or television.

          How wonderfully inclusive of you!

          P.S.
          No, I didn't get the reference. My brain vaguely recalls a Sherlock Holmes reference (father? brother?), but I've only read a few of the stories....

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pspahn (1175617)

          ...and anybody who doesn't get the reference should be drummed off the site.

          But then what would the two of you talk about, and who would be there to moderate?

          Listen, I get it, too many kids on the lawn and such. Personally, I've exchanged the not-quite-timeless phrase "get off my lawn" with the more apropo "no skateboarding".

          Though I do appreciate that I've now looked up Mycroft Holmes and was surprised to find it wasn't the agoraphobic brother of the late, great (and I do mean great) John Holmes.

    • But how did he manage to underflow the balance. That would mean he owed $92 quadrillion.

      • by Omega Hacker (6676) <omega@omegacs.UMLAUTnet minus punct> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:43PM (#44322161)

        Not sure you quite get the concept of underflow.... If it's a 64-bit field in cents and he had $1, an unsigned subtract of $2 would result in a balance of $92,233,720,368,547,757.08 (give or take a few cents).

        • by mpeskett (1221084)

          Question to my mind is why they're using unsigned numbers. Are there no situations where they'd want to store a negative balance?

          If for no other reason than to prevent this kind of embarassment when the "if (new_balance 0) { don't_allow_that() }" logic gets hit by a cosmic ray.

          • by mpeskett (1221084)

            new_balance < 0, that is

            Silly slashdot...

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Question to my mind is why they're using unsigned numbers. Are there no situations where they'd want to store a negative balance?

            They clearly aren't using unsigned numbers since the huge number on the statement HAS A MINUS SIGN IN FRONT OF IT. And one of the two activities listed on the statement is also negative.

            • by Culture20 (968837)

              They clearly aren't using unsigned numbers since the huge number on the statement HAS A MINUS SIGN IN FRONT OF IT.

              You can put a minus sign in front of anything. printf("-%u", X);

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            because they're idiots and optimized at the wrong place... money is worth enough to be stored as something else than fixed size binary.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Seems unlikely to be a computational error.

      If that were the case, after all the years PayPal has been in business an underflow would have happened a million times before.
      I'm going with a gamma ray hit on memory somewhere flipping a bit on 3 cent negative balance or something.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It seems very likely to be a computational memory error.
        bit BIN:
        111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111
        Byte
        11111111
        hex:
        7FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

        "If that were the case, after all the years PayPal has been in business an underflow would have happened a million times before."
        because on one ever updates software?
        You aren't thinking, please start.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Ok, lets take your way.....

          Someone updated the paypal software. And it affected EXACTLY one person.

          Right. Dismissed.

          • by plover (150551) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @06:45PM (#44322737) Homepage Journal

            Ok, lets take your way.....

            Someone updated the paypal software. And it affected EXACTLY one person.

            Right. Dismissed.

            Maybe the guy's name is Little Bobby Tables. That'll teach you to sanitize your PayPal names.

          • From TFA, it sounds like the error was corrected very quickly, so it's not impossible to assume that only one person:
            • Had a negative balance
            • Was checking PayPal.com in the half hour window when the buggy software update was live (assuming that it's rolled out over everything, and they don't do phased updates for the front end like most big web companies)
            • Took a screenshot of the massive negative balance
            • Reported it to a journalist who had a sufficiently slow news day to write the story.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Kids these days... When I was young we only had 2 billion on our hacked accounts.
  • As I read this I can't help myself from picturing that Austin Powers scene with doctor evil asking for 100 BILLION dollars.
    • They could have swung 100 billion in the '60s, or WWII for that matter. The US alone spent $249 billion on WWII -- in 1940s dollars.

      Now colonial days, where the Louisiana Purchase was $79 million, forget it.

      • Of course, convincing people to pay Dr. Evil $100 billion during World War II, well, they'd have to use some damned sexy Rosie the Riveters on the Buy Dr. Evil Bonds posters.

      • by buswolley (591500)
        Of course, congress has the power to mint money. Hell the treasury can right now. As mush as we want. One cannot run out of money...The limitation is inflation. Only inflation. Its not debt. Its not tax dollars. Its inflation. The question the becomes, are we at risk of inflation if we helicopter-drop billions of dollars on the people? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how much capacity there is to meet the increase in demand. http://neweconomicperspectives.org/p/modern-monetary-theory-primer.html [neweconomi...ctives.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772)

          The question the becomes, are we at risk of inflation if we helicopter-drop billions of dollars on the people? Maybe. Maybe not.

          Our president blows a billion$$$ every day on gas money; helicopter-dropping a few billion would probably have no appreciable effect.

          Frankly, the $1.5 trillion stimulus would have probably been better if he had divided the $1 trillion by $230 million people, and given every American individuals an equal amount, excluding individuals earning more than $80,000, and e

          • by buswolley (591500)
            Oh there is no doubt that the stimulus helped tremendously. However, I believe it would have been just as effective and probably more effective to give everyone a check instead.

            Its not that infrastructure is bad. Its that when governments contract infrastructure out to private industry, corruption results that often more than negates the supposed benefits of competition..Construction materials shouldnt be in house, but actual construction and design should be in house.

            So a helicopter drop on the people,

      • by jandrese (485)
        They should have just printed a $200 Billion Dollar bill and mailed it to him.
  • by neminem (561346) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .menimen.> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:31PM (#44322051) Homepage

    I'd never really followed other similar news aggregators before, but I've been following Consumerist for a few months, and indeed, that blog tends to post interesting news a couple days [consumerist.com] before it ends up here. In fact, it just posted a followup story, that apparently when paypal heard that upon seeing the windfall, even though he the guy knew it wasn't real, he felt compelled to donate 30 dollars to a local charity, paypal offered the guy the chance to donate an unspecified but supposedly substantial amount to the charity of his choice as compensation for the mistake.

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:40PM (#44322123)

    Bank Error In Your Favor means you Go Directly To Jail if you try to spend the money.

    • The first step is to use the money to buy Switzerland. Then you have all of the Swiss banks accounts you'll ever need.
    • Re:Unlike Monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spy Handler (822350) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:56PM (#44322265) Homepage Journal

      Paypal isn't a bank. He should've spent the money!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      but in the US, paypal is NOT a bank... and in some places in the US, if a company screws up and sends/gives you something in error (such as an erroneous double shipment on a mail order) -- it's yours. you're not obligated to return it or pay for it.

    • Re:Unlike Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @06:00PM (#44322309)
      Most countries in the world yes, but not the US, what he should have done was put it in his bank, and get interest off whatever his bank would accept. A few million dollars an hour for PayPal's error, then give back the money when asked. Likely, he'd not have any charges, and get to keep a few million dollars for his trouble. Instead, he'll get nothing but some news articles.
      • by Melkman (82959)

        A few hours ? If he had put it in an account with only 0,1% interest he would have earned almost 3 million dollar per second...

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          I was presuming that a bank would refuse deposits that exceded some threshold. After the first few billion, he might have had some problems. So I wasn't guestimating interest on the entire amount.

          Though, from TFA, it looks like he never had it, and it wasn't an account issue, but a bill-printing issue, regarding his monthly statement.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          paypal couldn't have done the transaction, with not being a bank and all.

      • I'd imagine paypal wouldn't have been able to cover the transfer and that would have triggered some rather unwelcome repercussions rather quickly. I wonder if he could have flash-crashed their stock sending them out of business?

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Most banks will have an inbound ACH limit of around $10,000. I'm sure Paypal has an outgoing limit as well, that is well less than $100,000; let alone millions.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I wonder if he could have flash-crashed their stock sending them out of business?

          We can dream....

      • by PPH (736903) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @09:50PM (#44323953)

        then give back the money when asked.

        Dear PayPal,

        Realizing your mistake, I deposited the funds in a bank account for safekeeping and notified your accounting department immediately. I have authorized the funds release to you immediately. Please contact my bank, the First National bank of Nigeria at.....

      • by mysidia (191772)

        A few million dollars an hour for PayPal's error, then give back the money when asked. Likely, he'd not have any charges, and get to keep a few million dollars for his trouble. Instead, he'll get nothing but some news articles.

        They would most certainly discover the error pretty quickly, when reviewing the unusual transaction; which would no doubt result in his account being frozen, and maybe get his name on the ACH blacklists / Chexsystems.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Can PayPal do that? They've worked so hard to not be a bank, would they be able to blacklist you in bank systems?
          • by mysidia (191772)

            Can PayPal do that? They've worked so hard to not be a bank, would they be able to blacklist you in bank systems?

            I am pretty sure Paypal would be able to report ACH "fraud".

            As for Chexsystems; I don't know. You don't necessarily have to be a bank to report to them though -- you could be a retailer, for example.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Bank Error In Your Favor means you Go Directly To Jail if you try to spend the money.

      Unless you use the money to buy out all your bank's stock, before they notice. And your first act as new CEO and director of the board is to take the company private, and make the "error" go away quietly

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:45PM (#44322171)
    "it said he had a $92,233,720,368,547,800 balance in his account. 'I'm just feeling like a million bucks"
    Someone's not so good at math, lol.
  • ... but on this occasion the suck was in a customer's favour. He could spend all of it and still be morally superior to PayPal.
  • 92 Billiard Dollars (Score:4, Interesting)

    by acid_andy (534219) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @06:28PM (#44322539)
    I prefer the term $92 billiard [wikipedia.org].

    I know, the Long Scale [wikipedia.org] is seen as very archaic these days but the short scale just seems to run out of puff too quick. Quadrillion, indeed!
    • by Arrepiadd (688829)

      I know, the Long Scale is seen as very archaic these days

      As a native from a non-English speaking European country, I wonder what's the "problem" with the long scale. Certainly here no one sees it as archaic.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      On the contrary. There are plenty of prefixes after quad- (quint-, sext-, sept-, oct-, etc.) which almost never get used. Even quadrillion is very rare. The long scale needlessly wastes these prefixes and confusingly (IMHO) alternates two suffixes.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Oh, I like billiards, particularly when I'm losing badly but then my opponent scratches on the 8-ball.

  • it was only in an email and not really on his account
  • No need to pay off the national debt, he would owe the IRS over 36 quadrillion dollars. Even if he only pays Google's tax rate of 2.4%, that's still 2.2 quadrillion dollars.
  • Let's say he actually paid the national debt. I know it's just a mistake, but wouldn't there be seemed lag time between the debt being paid and them correcting it?

    If so, what affect would having our debt be at 0 for a day be? For a few hours? Minutes? Seconds?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by BrokenHalo (565198)

      If so, what affect would having our debt be at 0 for a day be?

      I can tell you exactly what it would be like. We would see a massive spike in the US military budget, and half a dozen new wars started.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The national debt wouldn't just reduce to zero, even if there were suddenly enough money to pay it off completely. Much of the debt is held in the form of debentures. These are essentially contracts detailing a schedule for paying back a loan, including interest and the principal on the maturity date. These would still be outstanding, unless the government somehow recalls them (which they probably could with enough money).

      If the government did manage to completely pay off the national debt in a very short p

  • uh oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @09:15PM (#44323773)
    That's awfully suspicious. They better freeze Paypal's account, ignore all e-mails, refuse to admit they did it on support phone calls, and take 3 months to resolve it.
  • Frankly, I'm surprised their systems were even able to handle a number that large!
  • 'I'm just feeling like a million bucks,' the [Philadelphia] Daily News told Reynolds to say so they could get a clichéd quote from him yesterday.

    FTFY

  • I have a Paypal account too.

    *checks account balance*

    *sees it's the same as before*

    *cancels ordering giant yacht*

  • ... for a 10% downpayment on a Death Star.

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